ISSN 2330-717X

Egypt Braces For Bigger Protests

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(RFE/RL) — Egyptian protesters demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak are expecting large turnouts at rallies today.

Organizers are hoping some of the tens of thousands attending Friday prayers will also take part in protests.

As in many other countries across the Middle East, Egyptians are frustrated over rising prices, unemployment, and an authoritarian government that tolerates little dissent.

The opposition got a boost on January 27 when Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad El-Baradei arrived in Cairo from his home in Vienna.

“I will be there with the people, particularly with the young people who have led, organized, managed the peaceful demonstrations on the street,” El-Baradei said.

“And I have to give them as much support, political support, spiritual, moral support, whatever I can do. I will be with them. They are my people and I have to be there and I would like to see a new Egypt.”

Also, the opposition Muslim Brotherhood gave its backing to the protests, now entering a fourth day.

In his first comments on the Egyptian protests, U.S. President Barack Obama called on Mubarak to make “absolutely critical” political reforms.

“My main hope right now is that violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt. The government has to be careful about not resorting to violence and the people on the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence and the people. I think it is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances,” Obama said.

On January 27, protesters in Suez — along the Suez Canal — torched a fire station and fired on police with looted weapons. Police answered with tear gas.

At another rally near Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, police used tear gas to break up hundreds of protesters late at night.

In the northern Sinai, police exchanged fire with hundreds of Bedouins.

One Bedouin protester was later reported killed.

That brings the death toll to five.

RFE RL

RFE RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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